Former Miss Connecticut USA heads to Europe to reunite with great aunt fleeing Ukraine
A former Miss Connecticut USA is getting ready to head to Europe to reunite and help re-settle her 74-year-old great aunt who fled Ukraine amid the country’s invasion from Russia.
Olga Litvinenko, who won the pageant in 2017, managed to evacuate her mother before the Russians invaded while also helping others flee the country. Now she’s got one more mission and promise to keep.
"I promised my great aunt wherever she would crossover or wherever she got off that bus, I would be the first person to meet and greet her,” Litvinenko told News 12.
Litvinenko also acknowledged this is a long-awaited moment.
"I can’t wait to finally see her and give her a huge hug and make sure she is safe,” she added. "We're on the phone with her all that time, so we're making sure she’s motivated which is number one because it’s so easy to lose that in this entire process.”
The dangers of staying in Kyiv for Litvinenko’s great aunt became all too real. It's a similar story for the now millions of Ukrainians forced to uproot their lives and flee to bordering countries.
"At first she was perfectly comfortable and wanted to stay home and felt she could get everything just fine,” Litvinenko explained. “But the few days I heard bombings on the phone in the background and she came to tears, we realized it just wasn't the safest environment for her anymore.”
Litvinenko’s great aunt has spent days waiting to cross, but she’s still hoping to not leave Ukraine for good. It’s something she wanted Litvinenko to promise her.
"She said I don’t want to permanently leave Ukraine,” said Litvinenko. “I want to come back. Will you promise me we’ll come back? That I’ll be able to live in Kyiv. And I said absolutely."
Litvinenko’s great aunt will now have another long journey to France where she will be resettled. After that, Litvinenko plans on heading to Poland to help with relief efforts to the thousands of refugees needing aid.
Litvinenko and others created a GoFundMe to raise money for relief for refugees.